Neo-colonialism, Elitist Discourse and the Silent Subaltern in Kamila Shamsie’s novels


  • Naila Sahar


Kamila Shamsie’s novels


In ‘The Post-Colonial Studies Reader’, Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin state: All Post-Colonial societies are still subject in one way or another to overt or subtle forms of neo-colonial domination, and independence has not solved this problem. The development of new elites within independent societies, often buttressed by neo-colonial institutions; the development of internal divisions based on racial, linguistic or religious discriminations; the continuing unequal treatment of indigenous people…all these testify to the fact that post-colonialism is a continuing process of resistance and reconstruction. (Ashcroft 2) The world in Shamsie’s novels is a postcolonial world where neo-colonialism reigns supreme. Here the past and present forms of resistance, oppression and exploitation exacerbate and perpetuate. While condemning neo-colonialism, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first post-independence president, said: Neo-colonialism… is the worst form of imperialism. For those who practice it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponent. With neo-colonialism neither is the case. (Nkrumah xi) Neo- colonialism suggests the indirect control of former colonies through the exploitation of their economic and cultural dependence. In this case a country is unable to exercise its own power and take any vital decisions about itself, but is governed and dictated through the native elite who is compliant with the neo-colonial powers. This article explores the representation of neo-colonialism in Shamsie’s novels In the City by the Sea, Kartography, and Salt and Saffron.